Friday, September 23, 2016

Horror Movie Classics: The Fog

[Editor's note: I watched The Fog several months ago and have not been able to get myself to finish editing and picture-captioning this post until now. Here you go, you ungrateful bastards.]

Guys, I've had some drinks. I'll be honest with you about that. But when else am I motivated to do this shit? It was the Super Bowl and the team I sort of wanted to win didn't win, but our friends brought over their 14 month-old little girl and she was adorable and really enjoyed being buried in a pile of all our stuffed animal buddies, so really it was a good night overall. My sleep last night was minimal because nocturnal schedule + morning soccer game. I napped for a bit this afternoon after cleaning the house, but for real I'm a bit tired. That's why I've decided to pour a new beverage involving the only (?!) energy drink I've got left right now, which is a Rockstar Orange Whipped thingy with vodka. And anyway, I'm sure this movie was on a list or something and Netflix eventually sent us the disc and here we are now it's time to drink more and watch it. For posterity. The Fog is a 1980 film (co-)written, directed, and scored by John Carpenter. I CAN'T WAIT.

Two young girls with awful Dorothy Hamill haircuts sit under a blanket in flickering light. A stopwatch hangs from something and some kind of ship sailor dude comes and tears it down and informs them that 11:55 is "almost midnight." Thanks for the heads up, brah. The skipper thinks he can fit in one more story before midnight, before the 21st of April. Beach campfire. 100 years ago exactly, Spivey Point, a small clipper ship. Fog rolls in. A bunch of '80s kids wrapped up in blankets. the ship saw a bright light. A campfire LIKE THIS ONE. Ship crashed against the rocks blahblahblah. All them bitches died. Some other ominous shit.

Now a VERY early morning on a small coastal town. A church bell tolls. Oh, I guess maybe it's still night, just the beach looked light. The radio says it's 12 midnight. A dude in a vest smoking cigs who just rang the bells turns off a radio and the lights in the church. WHAT--JAMIE LEE CURTIS IS IN THIS? Bless your heart, JLC. Vest tells the priest he's all done. Mustachioed priest pours himself a drink. Vesty McCoolGuy wants his paycheck. Father says come in later tomorrow. Vesty is "Bennett." Father goes to look for him, but he's gone. Something falls down in the other room and a radio starts to play. There's an old radio playing jazzy music and there's a hole in the rock wall. The priest has found the journal of another priest from the 1940s. He turns to an entry that I assume will mean something:
April 30
Midnight 'til one belongs to the dead. Good Lord deliver us.

I'M SURE IT'S NOTHING. CARRY ON. Antonio Bay, the town, is 100 years old today. OMG I'm still in the credits part of the movie but keep pausing for details because of how I'm already drunk. The drunkenness can go either way on these: increased intoxication can lead to me caring less and leaving unnecessary stuff out, but other times I get hyper-aware of everything I'm missing and pause it too much and then I'm a slave to the letter of the movie, not its spirit. (LIKE GHOSTS, GET IT?)

All the pay phones ring off the hook. A guy in tight jeans sweeps in a convenience store, drinks out of a bottle from the cooler, and just puts it back because he is awful. More sweeping. Glass breaking. All the bottles in the building shake and Jeans just kind of looks around. Wow, the tucked-in flannel to jeans where the fly kind of sticks out because they're so tight and a shiny belt buckle. Outside, the lights go on at a clearly-closed gas station. The handle hops out of the pump and starts to spill gasoline all over the ground. Behind some bars, a car gets lifted almost to the ceiling and alarms go off. Elsewhere, all the cars in a lot have their lights go on and their horns, too. A lady gets out of bed and looks exasperated, but somehow not creeped out. Her lights and alarms go off, a chair moves and she's but slightly perturbed.

This is fine.
12:06, Stevie Wayne on the radio says it's still the Witching Hour. A guy drives down a dark two-lane road. He sees a hitch hiker and decides to pull over. It's a young woman. JLC. The old-timey car driver offers her a sip of beer. She's says she doesn't hitch hike usually and asks him if he's weird. He says he is and she is glad. He's her thirteenth ride. She's come from at least Santa Barbara. Something breaks the back and driver's side windows. They reassure themselves that it's midnight, and I guess that's why. Radio Stevie's using serious creaky voice up in the obviously haunted lighthouse. Some creep named Dan calls her and asks if she's coming to a party later, but she's apparently the only DJ, so she can't. He's got a tip about a ship or something. Stevie's radio voice is dumb.

The dudes on the ship say there's no fog bank coming. Her kid plays little league with one of the sailors' sons. They were skeptical there would be a fog bank actually out there (because a lady warned them), but there is. They see it now and decide they're drunk enough for their ship jobs or whatever. Is this a maritime movie? Boat movies are dumb. We are not meant to be upon the seas, so really we deserve what we get if we linger. Up on the the deck, drunk flannel dudes see some kind of ghost ship maybe? Guys, it's the witching hour on the anniversary whatever, so I'm sure it's no big. Out of the fog they see the outlines of some men (& etc.). Then a noise, then some giant hook and also knife stabbings. Captain flannel falls upon the deck, his eyes still open. Other folks on the ship get big hook murdered, too.

Stevie with her dumb scratchy radio voice seems tired. She lights a cig. Apparently she owns the lighthouse. Dan calls back in. He claims that her fog bank is blowing the wrong way or something and tries to ask her out. In a house somewhere near the light house (the oscillating lights), truck driver and hitch hiker have clearly fucked. They're Elizabeth and Nick. She's from Pasadena. Her rich parents won't let her do what she wants. He's a lot older than her. Somebody knocks at the door. They've been looking through a sketch book or something. Nick put on pants and goes to the door. Somebody with a hook is knocking. The clock strikes one and the glass breaks. Nick opens the door, but nobody's there. Stevie's off the air until 6 p.m. tomorrow now.

Daytime beach. Looks cold. Is this supposed to be the Oregon coast? The Pacific Ocean is so cold, my throat starts to close up if I exert myself at all in it for longer than a few minutes (jumping over waves, etc.). That's how I found out I had asthma as a kid. HAHAHAHA FUN. A kid on this beach going fishing finds a chunk of  washed-up wood that says "JANE" on it. That is my middle name because I am classy. Oh, this is Stevie's kid. She sleeps in sexy nightgowns. He tells her that old Mr. Macon tells ghost stories and the kid loved hanging out with him. Oh, the wood says "DANE." Forget what I said before a few sentences ago.

Elizabeth and Nick come to the dock where a guy smoking and writing/drawing tells him he's overreacting, worrying the Seagrass hasn't come back in. Elizabeth's goal is to move on to Vancouver (eventually). Now, here are some ladies in a park looking at a statue under a sheet. What is happening? This station wagon has fake wood paneling, so that's always a plus. Stevie's driving in some topless orange jeep thing, playing (Beta?) tapes. She drives around a windy coastal road and hears that at 1:57 p.m., the Coast Guard still hasn't spotted the Seagrass. Elizabeth is out on a boat with Nick, who's looking for the boat. "She can get real mean." (Presumably "she" is the ocean.) The ladies are Mrs. Williams, whose husband is out on her faulty boat, and some much-younger chick, Sandy. Oh, it was her car alarm last night. Elizabeth's tan-colored leather jacket doesn't look unlike the sheepskin leather jacket from the '70s I inherited from my mother that I should wear more often.

Mrs. Williams wants to restore the local cemetery. They knock at the church for Father Malone. They call for him and of course he comes through to startle them. He decides to show them the old journal, which is actually from 1880, but I guess I just read some numbers before that I'm trying not to spend too much time on now. Oh god I better drink this caffeine quicker. Father Patrick Malone (this dude's illegitimate ancestor) wrote this. The old journal talks about political intrigue, I guess? Old Father Malone has discovered somebody with leprosy or something. Now in 1980, though, Nick and Elizabeth find the Seagrass abandoned. Apparently, fishermen drink a lot. Nick says it's like the ship's been turned over in the water now. Old Father Malone was involved in some kind of murder plot.

Nick tells a story about his dad finding an 1867 doubloon. In the meantime, a locker basically explodes and a dead body falls on Elizabeth, right after she announced she's on her way to Vancouver now. Old Father Malone, the current Father Malone's grandfather, confessed to being involved in the assassination plot or whatever. The living priest tells Mrs. Williams and Sandy that tonight's centennial celebration honors murderers. Father Malone says something about Antonio Bay's curse and the time the six conspirators met 100 years ago. The ladies want him to give a benediction at tonight's events, but he's obvi reluctant. Okay, but GRANDfather? Two questions:

  1. If the priest's grandpa was also a (presumably) Catholic priest, somebody released their little wigglers into an unauthorized zone (a vagina) back in the day.
  2. The priest here looks perhaps in his mid-40s. When I, one of the youngest children of the youngest child of my maternal grandfather,* am 45, it will be 100 years from the time my grandpa was, like, in kindergarten. Perhaps we'll get more info on this whole forbidden reproduction timeline that will help me with  my misgivings, though. MATH IS HARD. Oh, I paused for awhile. A problem. Stop drunken stop-jobbling, Mr. Drunkface (which is me) and watch the movie. okay again start thing

Mrs. Williams' peach turtleneck under an off-white pantsuit is a bold, very 1980 look. Stevie listens to her own station broadcast itself while the DANE board fills with water and starts to leak onto her counter, fucking up the tapes she's using. Now we hear creepy low voices and the board says "6 MUST DIE" now. She has a giant fire extinguisher, which she uses on a small fire but once it goes out, it seems clear that nothing really happened.

On a boat back to shore, Nick contemplates how that dead dude could've drowned when he's not all wet or seaweed-y.  Back onshore, Andy the kid answers the phone. His mom wants to know where he found the wood. He says first it was a gold coin, and now it's a piece of wood. She tells him to stay away from the rocks, don't pick up anything else, don't leave the house, and stay at home with the babysitter who just got there. Stevie's hair has an awful lot of volume for a seaside environment. In her dumb scratchy radio voice she talks about it being Antonio Bay, California's 100th anniversary and plays some dumb old-fashioned no-words music. Andy asks his babysitter about the clouds on the water.

A medical examiner records the injuries to the body Nick and Elizabeth brought back. He's always wearing flannel. PLAID PLAID PLAID. His wounds are covered in algae and shit. It's like the ship was underwater for a long time. Elizabeth is kinda freaked out, but she's determined to go through with this really long one-night stand. It's gotten really cold in the building. The body is doing a thing under a sheet now. Elizabeth's lil mullet-y hairdo and high-waisted bell-bottom-y things are pretty textbook.

DRINK REFILLLLLLLL (and other break)

Elizabeth is maybe gonna be attacked by a sea zombie. The coroner thinks the body looks likes it's been down underwater as long as some missing kids. She yells for Nick, but all they find is a "3" written on the floor. Sea horns blow, I guess. Not sure what those are for. Centennial celebration thing. Looks pretty lame. Horns blow. Talk of the town's charter. Mrs. Williams' hair is still helmet-y, nothing out of place. She keeps thinking of her dog barking all night and she wants her husband to come home. She won't cry, though. IT'S A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIOOIONIONOINIONON!

WHYYYYYYYYY is Stevie's radio voice so insubstantial? Like, I don't know much about radio broadcasting, but I know a bit about talking in a microphone for money (hosting trivia). The last think you want is to reduce sonorousness.

Nick calls the station to ask about the fog. Stevie says the Fog was (IS) glowing and flowing in. Something weird happened last night. Stevie says she’ll be consulting with the weatherman soon. Dan, driving in the dark with the radio on, refers to himself as “the weatherman.” Are there any attractive men in this movie? Listen, I don’t want to be a dick, but pale, doughy 40-something dudes with no discernible personality may be wonderful people in real life, but this is a movie. I expect a SUSPICIOUS number of sexy sailor-types in this town. None. NONE! So far. The glowy blue-white fog appears to have come to shore now. On the phone, Stevie tells Nick about the driftwood her son found.

THERE IS A BLACK PERSON IN THIS MOVIE! A dude in a navy blue cableknit sweater is covering the weather station or whatever. Nick arrives to take over. Elizabeth takes her unfinished beer with her to follow Nick to check out the lighthouse. Dan calls in to tell her there’s another fog bank rolling in. GOD THIS MOVIE IS DUMB. Fog horns blow and Nick pulls erratically onto a side road. Stevie’s still talking to Dan. She turns out the light and sees that the glowing fog roll in. It’s coming in past Dan’s window. His lights have gone out and his instruments are freaking out. He thinks there’s somebody shining a light in the window, calls her “sweetheart,” and tells her to stay on the line. A ramming sound at the door. He thinks somebody’s playing a joke. She yells for him to stay away from the door. So much smoke as he opens the door and asks if anybody’s home. He yells back to the phone (still connected, but the receiver’s sitting on the table) that some drunk asshole’s taking the anniversary too seriously. OBVI now he gets attacked by the Creature from the Black Lagoon guy while Stevie yells “Dan!” while engaging her diaphraghm over the phone.

Dumb fog and lights. Stevie listens helplessly while shitty lyric-less jazz-adjacent music plays. The glowing fog approaches the shoreline. Stevie stop the music? Back at the celebration. Are there ever moments when there are no foghorns? Stevie issues an emergency bulletin. Mrs. Williams talks about their "vital, thriving community." Somebody grabs the sheriff to call Stevie. Glowing fog envelops the telephone lines and breaks them, I guess. This citizens of Antonio Bay light candles for the dedication of the statue or whatever. But back at the POWER PLANT, the fog apparently talks the turbines or whatever into sparking and dying. At this point, Mrs. Williams encourages folks to proceed to the statue. NONSTOP FOGHORNS.

Blahblahblah something is happening. Stevie yells that her kid is trapped by the fog somehow. He and the babysitter are being surrounding. Why are you so bad at closing the curtains? The mysterious doorknocks. Do not answer. Stevie yells over the radio for them to run. ASK WHO'S AT THE DOOR, BABYSITTER LADY! The glow-y fog is all that's there. She tries to tell the kid to go to his room. As soon as he walks away, the guys in the black frog suits attack her. The fog leaks under his bedroom door. Door banging. DON'T ANSWER. Stevie keeps broadcasting that her son is trapped and their address. The kid helplessly says the babysitter's name while just SITTING THERE and one of the things breaks a hole in his door with the hook. Nick and Elizabeth arrive. Nick breaks a bedroom window and manages to pull the kid out. Elizabeth tries to pull out of the driveway quickly, but the truck's stuck in the mud. WOMEN DRIVERS, AMIRITE? Hook dudes approach the truck through the fog, they still can't get going. Suddenly, they're able to reverse away.

 Back at the celebration things seem to be okay. The sun seems to be rising over the hills? Stevie apologizes over the airwaves that she couldn't come for Andy. She has to stay there. "The Fog is moving inland, away from the beach, towards Antonio Bay." YA THINK? Back on the road, it's completely pitch dark again? Stevie is describing where the fog is now. Elizabeth and Nick are going to run into it again with the kid. They have no windshield. They reverse and turn around. Stevie tells everybody to close windows and lock doors. "There's something in the Fog." Whatsername and Mrs. Williams try to turn away from it. Stevie tells everybody to drive towards the old church. The ladies arrive just as Nick, Elizabeth, and Andy get there, too. They come inside. They ask the priest if there's a cellar. He seems to be mustachedly drunk. He claims they "can't hide any longer." IS YOUR MURDEROUS ANCESTOR STILL AROUND?

They close all the windows and shit. Why do some/half the outdoor shots of the beach make it look like it's dawn, but it appears to be the middle of the night elsewhere? Stevie tries to describe where the fog is going from her high vantage point. The priest says "Blake and his men" are here now and his grandpa's journal can't help them now. Nick goes to retrieve it from the sanctuary anyhow. Is this movie supposed to be either good or scary? It is neither. Stevie goes downstairs and the Fog has reached the lighthouse's first floor. At the church Mrs. Williams finds something about some missing treasure (guess I missed that part of the story before but who cares).

Stevie knows the Fog is there, but blockades her doors. At the church, zombie hands break through stained-glass windows as Nick and Father Malone break a larger hole in the wall. They pull something out of the cache. It's a gi-fucking-gantic gold cross. A zombie pulls that one lady's hair from a window. Father Malone goes into a closet or something by himself with the golden treasure-made cross, despite Andy saying he shouldn't do so. Back at the lighthouse, Stevie is cagey, I guess. Father Malone carries the cross into the sanctuary, where the Black Lagoon Fog creatures wait for him. He yells, "Blake! I have your gold!" The figures approach him. Stevie tries to climb on the lighthouse's roof in impractical heeled boots, sliding on the slippery surface. The priest says his grandfather stole the gold, but must answer for it. "I'm the 6th conspirator, I'm father Malone. Take me." He attempts to hand over the gold to the Fog Guy. Meanwhile, a Fog guy with some kind of lil scythe attacks Stevie. She tries to fight back as two come at her. She catches a glimpse to see that they have green, rotting flesh.

At the church, the figure grabs the cross. It glows while both the living and dead hold it, shaking and smoking. Nick pulls Father Malone off of it. Lights increase and things escalate and I think now they're gone?  Elizabeth hugs Andy. Nick is wearing a leather jacket. Father Malone has survived and the church is now empty. On the lighthouse roof, Stevie clutches one of the baby scythe things as the Fog quickly retreats. The Fog evacuates out of the town. It's still real dark. I guess the red over the hills I saw earlier wasn't sunrise, it was sea ghosts? Stevie says some nonsense into her radio mic. To the ships at sea, "Look for the Fog." Father Malone still has a mustache. I think he wanted to be taken by the Fog creatures? Fog and lights under his door still. Okay, here they are. One of them with red-glowing eyes chops his head. Okay, but I think there were already six of them? WTF? Would it have helped if I paid attention to the diary/conspiracy part before? I suspect not. But like, how did this become a movie? And more importantly, why? Did they really think anyone would get scared or even care about any of this shit at all? It's SO BAD. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BAD. What even.

*though admittedly Mormons/people in the past breed young.

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